Today's CIO is expected to lead like a CEO, analyse like a CFO and execute like a COO, according to Gartner's group vice president Dr Marianne Broadbent.
In fact, the movie Mission Impossible comes to mind, she said, together with a touch of fantasy, when considering the expectations and challenges of a CIO.
And when it comes to execution, Broadbent likened the CIO's role to the movie, Reality Bites, and to shows like DIY Rescue and Stingers.
Admitting she was musing over the television guide when these analogies came to mind, Broadbent said: "I [recently] saw the final part of the strange show American Idol when I was in the US, and when I think of fantasies I think, OK, what's the idol-type notion here.
"I don't think there is such a [being] as the complete CIO unless the CIO we're talking about actually has a CTO (partner), because what we see is that CIOs should spend about 50 per cent of their time with their business colleagues really focused on shaping, informing and managing expectations."
This is in addition to managing the technology which is why, Broadbent says it takes two to tango, making an effective CIO-CTO team the ideal.
Speaking at a CIO Magazine conference in Sydney on Tuesday, she said the CIO role is clearly shaped by the state of the business in which he or she operates.
She said there are three scenarios that start with "fighting for survival" where the focus is on cost cutting, the second is "maintaining competitiveness" through key investments and keeping business and IT costs at an absolute minimum.
"The third kind of organisation, and it’s an amalgam, is 'breaking away' (from its competitors and investing more than [industry] average in IT) is really where technology is seen as the lever, the catalyst, the yeast, enabling the organisation to go faster [and] shorten the business processes," Broadbent said.
"If you’re in a 'breaking away' organisation, one of the biggest risks is missing 'keyholes' of opportunity and here the CIO should help the organisation identify and exploit opportunities."